BY DARA POLLAK
Manhattan Location: 334 Bowery, Nolita – NYC
After my visit to Italy some years ago, I fell in love with Neopolitan-style pizza: thin crust, slightly blackened on the bottom from the hot brick oven, and topped with fresh ingredients like mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, basil, truffles…I could go on. So when I heard about Neapolitan pizza spot Forcella making a debut in Williamsburg, I had to drop in for a bite…or two…
The space is small and cozy, the waitstaff all have Italian accents, and you can watch the pizzas being flipped around in the big open kitchen. It reminded me of a place I would actually go to in Italy – and just as I was thinking that, a group of Italian men sat down next to us and were discussing the menu boisterously with the waiter in Italian. Our questions for the waiter were a little less loud and in English, but we found out that each pie is about 9-10 inches, and the crust is incredibly thin, so you can easily order one per person (which is what we did and finished every last bite).
The first pie we tried was the traditional Margherita (homemade mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, $11) and the crust is so thin that the weight of half an olive would make it flop mercilessly in surrender. This is not to say that it doesn’t taste good, but I think the crust should have a little more resilience. Though for such a thin crust, the edges are surprisingly puffy and doughy, which is a fantastic contradiction and in my opinion, pretty tasty.
The Montanara pie is one of their specialties, and for $10 it might just be the best bet; deep-fried pizza dough is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. This pie doesn’t look all that different from the others, but upon your first bite, you can taste the difference. The dough has a slightly crunchier exterior, similar to that of a zeppole, and is a little bit greasier on the lips. It’s really good and it’s not as out-there as it sounds – we were envisioning an entire pie covered in batter and deep fried a la Chip Shop. Guess they don’t do that in Naples?
Our last pie was the San Gregorio, one of their white pizzas (or pizze bianche, $15), which was mozzarella, pesto, truffle, and tomato. I love pizza with truffles or truffle oil, so I was mildly disappointed with this one. The truffle was barely noticeable, and if you have had truffles before, you know them when you smell them or taste them. The pizza was also divided into two sides, which I thought was strange, one side had the pesto, the other had the tomatoes. Where was the truffle though? I only got a light hint of it on the tomato side – if you’re going to charge $15 for a pie, make sure there are truffles on it. The pesto side was better anyway, even with the absence of truffles – the balance of flavors was perfectly salty and nutty.
I am rarely able to turn down dessert, especially when that dessert involves Nutella, the ooey, gooey, chocolatey hazelnut spread. Naturally, they have a Nutella pie for dessert (Angioletti Alla Nutella, $6), which is actually two deep fried pies sandwiched together with Nutella in the middle and powdered sugar on top, making it like a crunchy, doughy crepe. I have nothing technically “bad” to say about this one, mainly because you could put Nutella on cardboard and it would taste good, but the execution was kind of lazy. Maybe some will think they get points for simplicity, but it needed something else. Would I eat Forcella’s Nutella pie again? Sure. Would I be super excited about it? Probably not because it was boring.
If you’re in the mood for a lighter, thin crust pizza with really fresh ingredients, Forcella won’t let you down. If greasy, sloppy, New York style pizza is more your speed, I would take the train back to Manhattan and get to a Ray’s, asap.